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Your new puppy or kitten checklist

Your new puppy or kitten checklist

At Christmas time, we come together with our loved ones to celebrate the season of goodwill. During these festivities, many of us consider expanding our circle to welcome a new four-legged companion.

It’s undoubtedly exciting to welcome a puppy or kitten into your family, but these beautiful creatures are forever, not just for Christmas. So ensuring you have everything you need to provide them with a long, happy, and content life with you and your family is important.

That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide with everything you need to know about new pet adoption. We’ll cover the benefits of RSPCA adopt a pet, a checklist of essentials, the best puppy food and kitten food, plus much more. So let’s get started.

The decision to welcome a new puppy or kitten into your life

Christmas is the perfect time to introduce a new pet into your home. Still, you’re committing to look after them for their entire lives, so you should think carefully before adopting and ensure you can provide them with a happy and loving home.

Consider the following:

Time – How many other commitments do you have (work, children, hobbies, etc), and how much time can you dedicate to a pet? 

Lifestyle – How active is your lifestyle – think carefully about how much energy you will have left over to accommodate the needs of different breeds. For example, if you already have an active lifestyle, the more independent nature of a cat compared to a dog could be better suited to you.

Financial – While the daily cost of housing a pet is often reasonable, you’ll also need to factor in vet bills, checkups, medicines, travel arrangements, and enrichment for your new pet. 

new puppy kitten checklist

Adopt, don’t shop. The gift of pet adoption.

Millions of beautiful animals worldwide are patiently waiting to find their forever homes. So instead of shopping for your new pet, why not try adopting from a reputable charity like the RSPCA adopt a pet.

Here, you’ll find animals of all shapes and sizes waiting for a second chance at a loving home. Not only can you be the hero of their story, but the hardships they have already faced in life often make the bond between pet and owner more profound. And you can feel great about yourself knowing that you made an ethical choice to rescue an animal in need.

Furthermore, when you adopt from an established charity, you can rest assured that the animals in their care have received adequate veterinary treatments and vaccinations, meaning there are health and temperament benefits to adopting.

Embrace the Christmas spirit and change a life this year by giving an animal in need a second chance with RSPCA adopt a pet.

Preparing your home for a new puppy or kitten

Before welcoming a new puppy or kitten into your home, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve created a safe and nurturing environment for them. The first step towards this is to “pet-proof” your home by removing hazards and creating a safe space for your new companion.

Take a look around your house for potential dangers such as:

  • Electrical cords
  • Household chemicals
  • Human medications
  • Toxic plants
  • Oils and diffusers
  • Rubber bands or hair ties
  • Open heat sources
  • Gaps between furniture
  • Plastic bags
  • Windows or balconies

When introducing a puppy or kitten to your home, it’s also a good idea to isolate them to one area before gradually allowing them to explore the remaining areas. Allocate an area to be “theirs” where they can feel safe, warm, and cosy. Provide good quality pet bedding, water, a litter tray (for kittens) or puppy mats, and enrichment to make them feel at home.

Another consideration is the initial introduction into the home. If you have small children or other pets, prepping them beforehand and on the day of bringing your new puppy or kitten home is also crucial. This will set them up to be best equipped for a harmonious home going forward! One proven technique for this is to introduce all parties in a neutral environment, to avoid any territorial behaviour.

Checklist for new kitten joining the family

The essentials checklist

Before adopting, there are a few critical decisions you’ll need to make: should I let my pet sleep in bed with me? Will my cat be an indoor cat, or will I leash train them and take them on walks? Will I visit a professional groomer or purchase the appropriate tools to groom them myself?

Once you’ve considered these decisions, you can gather the essential supplies for your new pet. The most important are listed below.

  • Bedding/Crates – regardless of whether you’re comfortable having your pet snuggle up beside you, a bed is still essential to provide them with their own comfortable space. Put in a little research, and you can find the perfect bed for your pet to suit their size, breed, and individual needs.
  • Water and food bowls – choose sturdy, no-tip bowls (especially for puppies and kittens) that are size-appropriate. As cats are notoriously light drinkers, invest in a cat fountain to encourage them to stay hydrated. They’re more likely to drink from a fountain because fresh running water is “cleaner” than stagnant water.
  • Litter boxes (for cats and kittens) – if you’re adopting a cat, then litter boxes are essential. Choose the best cat litter for your new fur friend and provide one box for each cat in the household (plus an additional one). While puppies don’t often use litter trays, purchasing pee pads can be a great way to keep your house clean as you train. Your puppy or kitten won’t learn immediately, and they’ll need your patience and guidance to help train them.
  • Collars, leashes, and ID tags – The best way to prevent a missing pet is to ensure they are microchipped and keep the details up to date. Additionally, add a collar with an ID tag if they’re likely to be roaming. Try placing the collar on them for a few hours a day, to begin with, so they can get used to the sensation. Leashes work best for walks, not just for dogs – you can also leash train a cat (depending on their personality.)
  • Grooming tools – a brush and nail clippers are the go-to grooming tools for a pet parent. Remember that long-haired breeds generally have higher maintenance needs than short hair. Still, do your research and ask your adoption centre for more information on your pet’s individual needs. 

You can also purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste (animal only – human toothpaste contains xylitol, which is toxic to your pet) to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Check out these 5 Vet tips for dog dental care at home.

The best puppy food and kitten food

Adequate nutrition is fundamental for the health and well-being of your new companion. And as a responsible pet owner, choosing the best puppy food or kitten food is crucial.

When you adopt, you can ask which food they have been using – many centres give you a voucher or even a complimentary bag of the approved food. In essence, you’re looking for a vet-approved, nutritious blend of ingredients that aid in the healthy growth of your fur baby.

Also, keep their age in mind – puppies and kittens have a different set of dietary needs than adult or senior animals – and any dietary restrictions such as allergies or sensitivities.

Enriching your pet’s life with toys and entertainment

Toys might seem like a luxury item, but they are vital for your pet’s physical and mental well-being. This is particularly important for house cats whose lives will be confined to the four walls of your home. Indoor cats can have happy and fulfilled lives – and they have many safety benefits, too! Still, they’ll need proper enrichment to meet their needs.

This includes climbing towers, interactive toys, balls, and boxes, which are great ways to keep your cat entertained. But make sure you also include animal-owner interactions daily by using wand toys or balls to get them running around and having fun with you.

Another essential is scratching poles; without them, a kitten will scratch your furniture to shreds. Again, be patient and gently redirect them to their scratching pole if you see them scratching something that they shouldn’t be.

If kittens love to scratch, puppies love to bite so chew toys are a must! They prevent your new puppy from tearing up the house, provide sound enrichment, and promote healthy teeth and gums. Dogs also require daily walks, so take the time to create an exercise schedule that works for you.

Health and wellness check: Veterinary care

Regular vet checkups are important throughout your pet’s life. Still, they are particularly crucial in the early stages when your puppy or kitten must follow a vaccination schedule to aid in healthy development. During this time, consider spaying or neutering your animal (particularly outdoor cats) to avoid unwanted litters, spraying, and other related issues.

Preventative care is the best way to keep your pet healthy, so work alongside your vet to draft a plan that works for you.

Adopting a rescue animal into your home might be one of the most meaningful things you will ever do, so take the time to weigh up important decisions and prepare your house for their arrival to give an animal a happy home.


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